Chicago-based Americana duo simultaneously succeed gloriously and fail miserably.
DIY is dead, but the Spares have it on life support. Without management, representation, a publicist, and with albums released on the band's own label, Spares pulls off something very, very difficult in the music industry, having sold more than 10,000 records and toured the country.
When it comes to Everything Is Easy, half of the songs are tremendous and the other half are absolutely terrible. Highlights include "Marathon", featuring a solid vocal performance by Jodee Lewis and strong melodies in a folk/Americana setting. "In The End" is like a stripped-down Alison Krauss, very lovely and highlighted by excellent vocal melodies. The show stopper here is "Like We Were". It's a punch in the heart; such an awe-inspiring, beautiful and sad folk-pop tune, recalling the hushed sounds of Hem.
On the other hand, we have dross like "Deconstruction And Re-Use", groovin' bar-band modern "country" that really chaps my ass. There's a cover of the obligatory "Wayfaring Stranger" which is so tired, especially when the Spares offer nothing new or interesting to it. "Revolution" is pure filler, while "Wanted Man" gives us John Hiatt at his worst, meeting with the rough 'n' tumble side of Nickel Creek. Not bad in theory, but, in practice, horrible in almost every way. "I Don't Miss" is strong on the blooz, like Dave Alvin's wanky, recent output, and the vocals are too weak to keep up. With fifty percent of Everything Is Easy so hard to take, I wouldn't recommend this to everyone. If it were pared down to an EP with the strongest songs, we'd be looking at something necessary. As it stands, I just don't care.